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Jered Brown knocked down a season-high 11 points Wednesday to lead Coupeville’s scoring attack against Friday Harbor. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

“The coaching staff is really, really proud of these guys.”

Coupeville High School varsity boys basketball coach Brad Sherman is still looking for his first win of the new season, but, four games in, he can’t, and won’t, fault his players for their heart.

“I’m really proud of the hustle and effort we are showing every game,” he said. “We’re starting to find our shooting rhythm, as well, which is nice to see.”

While a quick glance at the scoreboard after Wednesday’s 60-40 non-conference loss to visiting Friday Harbor might indicate a one-sided game, it was anything but.

Coupeville, now 0-4 on the season, used a hail of three-point bombs to hang with a team which had a huge height advantage, but one bad stretch ultimately doomed them.

The Wolves had fought back from a 10-point first-quarter deficit to knot the game at 18-18, and only trailed by a bucket after Gavin Knoblich slapped home a rebound put-back with a minute to play in the first half.

Down just 24-22 and having at least momentarily muted the inside play of Friday Harbor’s 6-foot-8 and 6’6 post players, CHS was on the move.

And then the rim swore a vendetta against the Wolves, and not a shot would drop for an agonizingly long time.

Friday Harbor took advantage, slipping a pair of free throws through the net, turning a steal into a two-handed jam, and then, worse of all, hitting a desperation three-ball right before the halftime buzzer.

Sean Toomey-Stout gave Coupeville a small sliver of hope when he alertly stripped the ball as Friday Harbor attempted a second dunk on the final play of the half, but the 7-0 surge was a killer, emotionally, mentally and on the scoreboard.

The break didn’t ease the shooting curse, as the Wolves continued to have shots pop out, roll away and take weird bounces through much of the third quarter.

By the time CHS junior Jered Brown hit a one-hander in the paint, after a feed from Jacobi Pilgrim, Friday Harbor had run off 16 straight points and turned a one-basket game into a semi-romp.

Brown banged home a step-back three-ball a moment later, and the Wolves played the visitors almost dead even in the fourth, but the damage in the middle of the game was too much to overcome.

Once the lead ballooned out, Coupeville wasn’t able to get closer than 17 down the stretch.

A big part of that was Friday Harbor’s dominance on the boards, as tree toppers Marshall Clark (29 points) and Kyle Mapstead (14) used their long arms to snatch away many of the caroms and convert them into put-backs from close range.

The Wolves didn’t go down easily, with Ulrik Wells, at 6’4 Coupeville’s only true big man, snatching his fair share of boards.

Meanwhile, the 5’10 (and super springy) Toomey-Stout rejected a couple of shots that caught the Friday Harbor players (and their fans) by surprise.

Coupeville’s best run in the game came when the game was still fairly young.

Down 18-8, with Brown and Mason Grove having hit three-balls, the Wolves dropped three consecutive treys to start a crowd-pleasing comeback.

Freshman Hawthorne Wolfe, whose first bucket of the night came on a play in which he twisted himself into a pretzel in mid-air to get around a defender, nailed the first three-ball.

After that, Grove stepped up, launching a three-point special to end the first quarter, then another to open the second.

A Toomey-Stout free throw capped Coupeville’s 10-0 run and seemed to signal nothing but good times ahead, but the offense is still a work in progress for a young, transitioning Wolf squad.

“We’re improving each game; it’s just little things we need to fix,” Sherman said. “We need to take a little better control of the ball, be a little more patient.

“Our bigs (Wells, Dane Lucero, Pilgrim, Knoblich, Koa Davison) played really tough tonight, which was a big task against a big front line like that,” he added. “They all played pretty dang hard.”

Brown and Grove each netted their season-best scoring performance, with 11 and nine points, respectively, while Wolfe, the team’s leading scorer, added eight.

Wells (4), Toomey-Stout (4), Davison (2) and Knoblich (2) rounded out the scoring attack, with Davison’s bucket, off an offensive rebound, settling through the net with 0:00.1 to play.

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